World No. 151 Maxime Cressy stole the show at the US Open. The French-American pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory as he defeated Olympic Bronze Medalist Pablo Carreno Busta 5-7 4-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(7) in an offensive onslaught that lasted three hours and 31 minutes.
Cressy fired 46 aces and saved four match points en route to an unexpected win over two-time semifinalist Carreno Busta. The former UCLA standout thoroughly outplayed the ninth seed, winning 17 more points overall. In fact, the match went the distance because Cressy squandered 10 of the 13 break points he produced, including a pair of set points in the tenth game of the afternoon.
Carreno, who infamously eliminated Novak Djokovic last season in New York, never felt comfortable on return versus the ultra-aggressive style of Cressy. Not only that, but the 24-year-old was able to neutralize the Spaniard’s patterns from the baseline. Not known for his consistency, the American put enough balls in play when needed, rather than recklessly charging the net from poor positions like he used to right after graduating from college in 2019. It came to my attention how Cressy was often seen reading notes from his little notebook during changeovers. He must have executed his game plan down to a tee.
The fifth set tiebreak wasn’t an instant classic as the 15-13 mayhem between Andreas Seppi and Marton Fucsovics half an hour earlier, but it had a fair share of drama. Carreno went up two mini breaks (4-1), rapidly giving back one with a double fault to the ad side that sailed a bit long. But a pair of timely backhand passing shots gave the Spaniard a triple match point (6-3). Cressy saved the first two on serve on the back of spectacular reflexes and touch at the net. But then nerves got the better of Carreno. The Gijon native missed the first serve and then completely botched the toss and execution of the second, crashing it in the middle of the net. It wasn’t even close. Even though Carreno would still enjoy one extra match point, momentum had clearly shifted and the inevitable happened: the qualifier upset one of the dark horses of the tournament.
Cressy clinched his biggest win when few people expected him to do it. In spite of his four consecutive wins in New York, he’s still sitting at a 19-22 record on the season. We are talking about a man who only played one match at No. 6 his freshman year at UCLA (2015-16) and played mostly at No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles as a junior for the Bruins (2017-18). That year, Carreno Busta reached the Top 10. For the umpteenth time: tennis is unpredictable. Next up for Cressy, the big-hitting Nikoloz Basilashvili, who took advantage of Sebastian Korda’s retirement due to food poisoning.
Can he keep the Cinderella story alive one more round?
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